As my holiday gift to all of you, I am sharing an excerpt from the book Hope in a Dark Time–Reflections on Humanity’s Future. One of the best essays is this collection is titled“Our Power for Peace,” written by author, Buddhist scholar, educator and artist Daisaku Ikeda.
During this holiday season and in the coming year, it is my hope that you will remember the power you possess for hope, compassion, generosity, creative expression and opening your hearts to others. Thank you for all of your efforts to make the arts meaningful, relevant, equitable and accessible. There is no more noble of a goal than developing work and fostering partnerships that both demonstrate and promote the ideas of hope, peace and equality for the sake of the future generations.
“Sometimes hopes and dreams are spoken of as something fragile and easily broken. In fact, they are anything but that. The power of hope and dreams is the power from which the world is born new each day. The more noble–the more compassionate and humane–the goal toward which our hope is directed, the greater the power we bring forth from within. Nothing is more profoundly empowering than the determination to work for peace–the hope that has been cherished in the hearts of countless generations of humanity….
Imagination is the wellspring from which hope flows. It is the power of imagination, the power to imagine different realities, that frees us from the mistaken notion that what exists now is all that will ever exist, and that we are trapped inside our problems.
Everything changes. Nothing is “written in stone,” fixed and unchanging for all time–not even the stone itself. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus expressed this saying we can never step in the same river twice. The water flows without cease and what we set foot in a moment ago is already gone, replaced by a new flow.
Since everything changes, the real question is whether it will change for the better or for the worse. And that, finally, is up to us. If our hearts are filled with self-hatred and despair, that is the world we will create. If our hearts are filled with hope and compassion, we can without fail create a better, more peaceful world.
When the realists tell us to accept a world of suffering, a world of war and injustice, what they are really doing is displaying the stagnation and failure of their own imagination.
The limitless power of the individual is unleashed when we work together. This is the power of connection, the power of human solidarity. Our dreams grow and flourish when we speak them out loud; when we share them with others. To do this requires courage. We must overcome the fear that we will be misunderstood, looked down on or laughed at for putting into words the content of our hearts.
The solidarity of the world’s so-called ordinary citizens holds the key to peace…In the end, peace will not be realized by politicians signing treaties. True and lasting peace will only be realized by forging life-to-life bonds of trust and friendship among the world’s people. Human solidarity is built by opening our hearts to each other. This is the power of dialogue.
Dialogue is more, however, than two people facing each other speaking. The kind of dialogue that can truly contribute to peace must begin with an open and earnest “inner dialogue.” By this I mean the ability to examine, carefully and honestly, our own attitudes…
Ultimately, the challenge we each face is to grow into the kind of person who is capable of truly respecting others. How could there be war if we saw each meeting with another as a rare and remarkable encounter with the most precious treasure of the cosmos? I can think of no more direct and simple path to peace.”
Little girl in T-shirt: AMuseLeatherCo